To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee
Y11 English

Harper Lee

Harper Lee
• Born in Monroeville, Alabama in 1926 • Youngest of 4 children • Her father was a lawyer

• Jean Louise (“Scout”) Finch, the narrator was the youngest child, born in 1926, her father was a lawyer, she was born and raised in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama

Alabama

Alabama

North and South
• In the 1700 and early 1800s the Southern states, including Alabama, had a thriving economy based on the production of cotton and other valuable crops like sugar and rice.

• Plantations (large farms) were owned by rich white families who ran their businesses by using hundreds of black slaves as their labor force.

North and South
• Northerners objected to slavery, which, incidentally, gave the South an “unfair” advantage over the North. • Many Northerners campaigned for the abolition of slavery.

North and South
• The Southern states, including Alabama, tried to secede (break away) from the United States. • This led to a civil war.

North and South
• The South lost the war. • Slavery was outlawed. • Many slaves continued to work for their former owners on the same plantations.

Blacks and Whites
• In the Southern states, even up to 100 years after the Civil War, black people continued to be treated as inferior, were made to live separately from whites, and were often denied their rights.

Blacks and Whites
• When Harper Lee was 5 years old, nine young black men were arrested in Scottsboro, Alabama and tried for the rape of two white women. • These men came close to being killed by a vigilante group before the trial. • Although medical evidence proved that the women had not been raped, all the defendants were found guilty by the all-white jury, and all but one were sentenced to death.

Blacks and Whites
• In the late 1950s, when this book was written, racial tension was strong in Alabama. • In 1954 Martin Luther King, Jr. began his civil rights work in Montgomery, Alabama. • In 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, leading to a bus boycott.

The Great Depression

The Great Depression
“The Cunninghams are country folks, farmers, and the crash hit them the hardest.” (Atticus Finch, Chapter 2) In the book, Atticus Finch explains that professional people were poor because the farmers were poor. As Maycomb County was farm country, nickels and dimes were hard to come by, even for doctors, dentists and lawyers.

Main Characters - Scout
• Jean Louise Finch – AKA “Scout”
• Narrator of the story • 5-years old at the start of the novel • Female • Tomboy

Main Characters - Jem
• Jeremy Atticus Finch – AKA “Jem”
• 12-years old at the start of the novel • male • Scout’s older brother

Main Characters - Atticus
• Atticus Finch
• Scout and Jem’s father • A lawyer

• A widower (his wife has died)

Main Characters - Calpurnia
• Calpurnia
• Housekeeper/caretaker for Atticus, Scout and Jem • black

Main Characters - Dill
• Charles Baker Harris – AKA “Dill”
• 7 years old • Staying next door with Miss Rachel for the summer • He says about himself, “I’m little but I’m old.”

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